The Evolving Inland
Enveloped by the transparent waters of the Adriatic, the peninsula of Istria will amaze you with spectacular natural scenery in constant transformation over the course of the year.
Coastal villages such as Rovinj, with its simple ports, fishing boats and narrow streets, reflect the spirit of the Mediterranean, while moving inland gives way to the kind of green and fertile hues associated with the landscapes of Provence and Tuscany.
Two-part singing and playing in the Istrian scale
Two-part singing and playing in the Istrian Scale is a complex style of folk music found even outside Istria and the Croatian Littoral, but it is most compactly preserved precisely in this area. Basically, two-part singing is based on non-tempered tone relations and a characteristic color of tone that is achieved in vocal music by powerful singing, partly through the nose.
There is often a degree of improvisation and variation during the performance in both voices, but endings in unison or in octave remain as a strict rule. This feature can be noticed in bugarenje sub-style, too, regardless of the fact that the lower voice drops additionally for a second or a diminished third. Most of the tonal rows consist of four to six tones. The metro-rhythmical organization, formal structure and structure of the song text range from simple to very complex patterns, and the relationship between music and lyrics is specific.
Continental and Mediterranean cuisine come together in Istria: fish, crabs, seafood, maneštra od bobići (the famous minestrone with sweet corn), pasta with fabulous local truffles, game sauce, goulash, pork loin and sausages, wild asparagus omelette, cheese… Start with an aperitif of mistletoe, rue or honey schnapps, enjoy your meal and make room for a sweet dessert ending with kroštule, krafi, or fritule fried dough pastries.
The Book Fair(y) in Istria has profiled itself as a Festival of authors and publishers. There are about 60 to 80 thousand visitors very year, last year 50 authors presented their books, and 146 writers, musicians, and artists took part in a variety of programs. The program of the Book Fair(y) includes a wide range of events: book promotions and author presentations, round table discussions, panel discussions, symposiums, exhibitions, performances, films, concerts… Last year there were as many as 108 events altogether. There is a huge discount on books – up to 70% off. The Book Fair(y) is held at the House of Croatian Defenders.
The leading restaurants and bars in Northwest Istria (the region represented by the towns of Umag, Novigrad, Buje and Brtonigla) are increasingly becoming known (not only in Croatia but also further afield) for providing their guests with a dining experience at the cutting edge of gourmet food preparation. These gourmet oases are able to satisfy the most refined palate, offering ever new and diverse seasonal menus adapted to typical Istrian ingredients and prepared by creative chefs in their own different and characteristic ways. Following sound gourmet cooking principles, local ingredients of the highest quality are used allowing food enthusiasts to sample seasonally based menus such as wild asparagus, shellfish of all types, autumn sole fish and Adriatic squid.
Thematic Gourmet Events at Special Prices
As a way of showcasing the gourmet skills available in Northwest Istria, thematic events are regularly held in the region during which some restaurants and taverns offer their guests tastings of dishes served in several courses and prepared using Istrian delicacies offered at special prices.
Days of Shellfish
In winter, the Shellfish Days event is held from February 16 until March 23. During this period, one can sample the finest Istrian seafood recipes featuring scallops, mussels, warty venus (a saltwater clam), Noah’s Ark shells, black scallops, and oysters. Without any fear of exaggeration, it is safe to say that diners will experience the special seafood taste only available from one of the cleanest seas in the world, complemented by superb Istrian wines and the best olive oil to be found anywhere. .
Days of Asparagus
During the spring, the Asparagus Days event results in local restaurant menus featuring what is arguably one of the healthiest and tastiest wild plants to be found in Istria. Gourmet creations to be sampled using asparagus as the main ingredient include using it in risottos, salads and in cream soups. Picking fresh asparagus as soon as it is in season during the first few days of spring creates quite a frenzy of activity amongst local residents, many of whom choose to use their freshly picked asparagus to make an omelet, a time-honored tradition in Croatia.
Days of Sole Fish.
The first days of autumn bring Sole Fish Days and Northwest Istria attracts lovers of this high-quality fish which is by some appreciated more than bream or sea bass. Enjoy sole through four delicious courses, prepared in various ways – the carpaccio or as a soup, with gnocchi, ravioli or simply just grilled.
Days of Adriatic Squid
Domestic Adriatic squid is a true gourmet delicacy, a fact that guests will appreciate during the Days of Adriatic Squid event held in early winter – the main fishing season. Forget about fried squid from Patagonia or California served with frozen chips. Domestic Adriatic squid in our restaurants must be tried when prepared in teran wine or as a risotto, a delicious cream soup, baked with vegetables, with pasta or stuffed under the ‘peka’. You will be licking your fingers all the way through the meal!
Traditionally, sweet aromas and tastes of Easter, the biggest religious holiday, welcome Poreč visitors at the main town square during the Easter weekend. Visitors can experience first spring sun rays outdoors, accompanied by the sound of the sea, by touring charming stalls offering traditional Istrian products and Easter delights.
Numerous sports and active holiday lovers will find enough reasons to come to Istria even in the winter months, but the first days of spring brings the ultra trail race 100 miles of Istria.
The 100 miles course is the hardest and the most beautiful course, it stretches from the eastern part of Istria, over its highest mountain down to the mainland, and ends on the western part of the peninsula in the city of Umag. Along the route, you will experience every possible aspect of trail running – really technical terrain, a little bit of the coast, old medieval towns, deep forests, city centres, old train route, muddy valleys, all spiced up with breath-taking panoramas.
The course starts in the 3000 years old town Labin, climbs the Učka mountain and descends in Buzet. The trail leads you afterwards to the smallest town in the world, the town of Hum, then to the medieval pearl Motovun and back to the finish in Umag.
The second largest course offers you “the climb”, right in the beginning, from the sea level directly to the top of the Učka mountain. Reaching the foot of the mountain peak, the 110 km trail merges with the 100 miles trail until Buzet. From Buzet, the trail leads you towards Oprtalj. Before you reach Umag you will have to climb mountains, cross the stream but you’ll also see the ruins of the Pietrapelosa castle.
The third race, 69 kilometres long trail is an excellent start for participants as well as the fourth race which is quite a novelty and is dedicated to beginners in trail running. The finish of all the races and the centre of events will be in Umag where the road race at 5 km and Ledo 1 mile children race will be held.
Istrian Wine Run is intended for professional athletes but also for amateurs who for the first time want to try something similar. The race puts a special emphasis on fun and entertainment of competitors but at the same time, it wants to tell more about oenological and gastronomical offer of rural Istria.
While running along the route competitors come across several wine cellars and a number of refreshing points where they are able to taste great wines of Istrian winemakers. At the starting and finishing point as well as at certain points along the route, runners will be animated by different musical entertainers.
An interesting characteristic of this race is the possibility of disguising yourself. Therefore, we invite all participants to give their contribution and choose imaginative and original mask which will boost the atmosphere of the entire event.